Why do they make power adapters so large that it’s difficult/impossible to plug something into the adjacent plug?


Why do they make power adapters so large that it’s difficult/impossible to plug something into the adjacent plug?

In: Technology

They make quite slim ones, but they cost more. Most manufacturers don’t see sales dropping because people love their phone and hate its wall wart. As a result they go with the fat+cheap ones.

They don’t design them to intentionally block adjacent plugs. They are that size because that’s what’s necessary to cheaply convert the incoming AC into the required DC for the device you’re plugging in.

They can do this either directly at the plug and keep the wire uniform all the way to the device, or they can make the types of cables often seen in laptops, with those large blocks along the cable. On smaller devices (that don’t require as much power), those blocks are small enough you can put it right at the plug and only cause *some* issues such as blocking a nearby plug or two. The alternative is to move it down the cable so you have a smaller plug, but this adds more room for failure (you have two connection points – one for each side of the block, instead of just one coming out of the block).

For some devices, like laptops, the block is virtually always too large to put on the plug, which is why they have the blocks halfway down the cable.

It is a safety feature to avoid overheating. They had to put some extra eletronics, that is why they are so big

Laziness and to save money. Adaptors are ubiquitous and very inexpensive and a well designed small adaptor need not cost a lot more. Most of these adaptors are sourced-in. Few companies bother to design them from the ground up. At most, they will send out an external drawing/industrial design and some reference material or finish required.

There are good companies that spend the time to spec out adaptors that work well, fit their aesthetic and are small. They will spend a few dollars more to get it right. You have to spend more to get efficient, small form factor adaptors.

Others just cheap out. You can get an off-the-shelf adaptor sourced with some custom labels/screen print and pay just a few dollars. (I’ve sourced OEM adaptors for less than 3 bucks in volume) Often times a smaller company just won’t spend the resources and assign some junior buyer/sourcing person to bring in a couple of catalogs to pick from.

These monsters should have no place in the 21st century. Just put them in the middle of the cable for crying out loud!

It’s like $5 to offset the cost to the consumer with a [mini extension cable](https://www.lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-0-5ft-2-Out-Outlet-Extender-White/1002815162).

I’m sure there are better prices out there but I would agree that manufacturers should be required to have the power block down wire. I wonder what the exceptions would need to be.

They have to be that large because the Laws of the Universe say you need that much stuff to handle that much electricity. They block outlets because companies can save a little cash by not putting an extra little extension cord between the adaptor and the outlet.

* The size of the “block” has to do with the stuff inside.
* So if you didn’t want to block nearby outlets, you could instead put the block in the middle of the wire.
* But now you have an issue where if the outlet is too high off the floor, the block is now dangling in mid-air and potentially pulling the wire out of the outlet.
* Worse it could pull the wire only partly out of the outlet and now live current is exposed on bare metal connectors.
* So the best and safest option is to block some outlets.

To have safety approvals (UL or similar) if you have another line-voltage cord that also has to be tested and approved separately and as a part of the assembly.

Eliminate the extra cord by putting the male plug directly on the power supply box, solved, faster time to market. Also saves a couple feet of thicker copper wire which is also expensive. And one less detachable cord to lose somewhere / incorrectly package / etc. Otherwise if the supplier or construction of the line-voltage cord changes they have to re-apply and re-test the safety of the combined unit again.

Something else to consider is a lot of countries (especially countries that use 240v supplies) have bigger plug sockets that are spaced further apart, so large power adapters actually fit just fine. Companies always looking to save money aren’t going to make a special, more expensive adapter with a cable for countries with small us-style outlets.